Reclaiming Wellness with Bridget Shannon

Joining the ladies this week is Bridget Shannon, Co-Founder, Podcast Host, and Head Coach at Wellness Lately.

Wellness Lately's mission is to reclaim wellness from diet culture and their work is rooted in body liberation and food freedom, helping women all over the world escape the painful, diet-binge cycle and embrace true well-being.

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Interview with Bridget Shannon of Wellness Lately:

*Text has been edited for clarity

Calla: Why don't we start out by you telling the HTC Community what Wellness Lately is.

Bridget Shannon: Well, thanks so much for having me. I am excited to be here. We are all about reclaiming wellness from diet culture. So we help women heal their relationship with food and their bodies, and that really, really painful diet mentality that keeps -and I've struggled this with this myself, it really keeps you stuck in this restrict/binge cycle leads to a lot of challenges with disordered eating and negative body image. So we help you put that struggle behind you and really free up the mind space and energy and time and resources that this challenge takes up for a lot of people and help you focus on better things. So we have a lot better things to think about than changing our bodies and shrinking ourselves.

Leanne: Preach that.

Calla: The Lord's work right there. So I know Dana couldn't be here. But how did you two come together?

Bridget Shannon: We used to work together. So we worked for a health coaching company and really bonded, I think over needing a creative outlet from that and a history of struggling with food. And we both really, I think, double down on dieting by becoming health coaches, to begin with, and so you know, what better way to excel at dieting and then talk about weight loss day in and day out, right? So we really kind of bonded over that but also saw in the inner workings of the wellness and wellness industry. I think a lot of Really shady shit, for lack of a better term, there was really a lot of toxic added-up behavior. Everyone was on a juice cleanse every other week. It felt like just a lot of wellness was disguised within the diet industry. And so we started kind of paying attention to how that impacted people. And, you know, in our own coaching practices, you know, like how this sort of rigid diet mentality was affecting people's ability to really make peace with food and actually feel better physically and mentally. So we started a blog and writing about all of this and then developed our coaching practice from there. So here we are, gosh, probably six, I think six years later, or so—something like that. We're still working together. And yeah, it's been really fun. It's fun to work with one of your good friends as well.

Leanne: Where do you think this whole obsession with diet culture and beauty and prioritizing your diet came from?

Bridget Shannon: Well, I think we have a diet culture that is rooted in really unrealistic beauty standards, right? I think that there's a bit a lot of pressure, especially on women. And that's, that's a generalization, but we work primarily with women in our practice. And I think that this is an issue that really affects many women and female-identifying people because we have this deeply ingrained desire to be attractive. And for a lot of women, you know, before us that was a lifeline, right to be approved of and to be desirable was, you know, a woman's worth was so rooted in that need. So I think that it really stems from this sort of Eurocentric beauty standard. And then, of course, we have to look at the money behind it. Right? Like, we have a 70 plus billion billion dollar industry, that is really.

Leanne: Is that how much it is?! A billion dollars? That's crazy.

Bridget Shannon: And that's just the diet industry, right? We're not even talking about the beauty industry, you know, or the entire wellness industry. So this is just the diet industry that is really capitalizing on this desire to lose weight. And we, we have this belief within the diet culture that we or most of us exist in which is, "Thin equals good, thin equals healthy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals, you know, morally respectable, right? So it's this constant pressure to be thin, and the diet industry has picked up on that. And, you know, we have the overt diets like the Weight Watchers or the Atkins, or you know, traditional diets, right, and then that has sort of morphed into the wellness and wellness industry, which is a lot of you know, Paleo, Keto, these quote-unquote lifestyles, which are still diets, if you really dig into it. But it's still this intentional pursuit of weight loss that is really what this industry is capitalizing on.

Leanne: And what was the breaking point for you? As you said, you struggled with, you know, dieting and stuff yourself. What's your story that made you realize that I need to do something different I need a change.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, I grew up in a household that was really weight-centric, right really, quote-unquote, health-conscious. And so it was this sort of a battle of food started from a really young age. In my house, there was no sugar allowed, no quote-unquote, junk food. Food was very much controlled in that way. So my own history with dieting started pretty young. I remember my first diet was, I think 12 years old after going to the doctor's office and being told my BMI was too high. So from a very young age struggled with my body. And that was really the catalyst for dieting throughout, you know, for the next couple of decades. I got to a point where I got pretty sick with Lyme disease, and it was already a pretty brutal battle with Lyme. And overnight, I gained a lot of weight, I was having hormonal issues. I was, you know, having a lot of anxiety that I never had before. And it was a pretty, pretty terrible time, but it forced me to change the way that I related to my body, right? Instead of beating myself up all the time, or, you know, stressing about how I looked, I really had to learn how to treat my body in a different way and actually learn how to take care of myself without these crazy, rigid food rules. So it was a process of work.

Calla: That's hard work.

Bridget Shannon: Definitely hard.

Leanne: It's almost like a, I mean, in a roundabout way kind of a gift because it had you prioritize your health over just your appearance.

Bridget Shannon: Yes.

Leanne: that's hard to make that switch.

Bridget Shannon: Yes, absolutely. It was hard it was, it was a really, it was a mindset shift for me because it was this, putting the focus more on how I was taking care of myself and how I was treating myself and, you know, had to develop the self-compassion piece, which before it was all about how I looked in my health was sort of rooted in my appearance and my body size. So that was a big shift for me. And going from rigid dieting to intuitive eating, which, you know, we now help women with is, is a really big challenge. If you are coming from a place of food rules and coming from a place of you know, I How can I possibly eat without dieting? If I don't die it, I'm just gonna eat everything in sight.

Leanne: I might explode.

Bridget Shannon: Yes, exactly. So that was the shift I went through. And yeah, too. And, you know, there were some other things I moved out of New York City where I was living, and I left a pretty tough relationship and started a new career path. So there was a lot of kind of culminating in in terms of what was happening in my life. And so instead of putting all my energy and time and focus into my appearance, it was like, Well, what else do I want to do with my life? What is actually gonna make me happy? Because this isn't working, right, this constant focus on what I look like and waiting on the way in order for everything in my life to fall into place wasn't working. So it was about kind of shifting my focus in that way.

Calla: What allowed you to make some of those shifts?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, So the first person that comes to mind is the doctor I worked with, honestly, who is pretty, pretty influential in my thinking. And at you know, the first thing she said to me was, what if it's not the weight? That's the problem? What if it was, instead of shifting your mindset and treating yourself differently? Like, what if you started being kind to yourself and sort of, instead of constantly, you know, berating yourself, and that was a big shift for me as part of the whole lime saga that that's the first person that comes to mind, but also books for sure. I read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Triboli, and Elyse Resch, who are the dietitians that started this Intuitive Eating movement and have sort of outlined the official framework. And that's the framework we use in our coaching practice. But that was a big turning point for me in terms of my relationship with food.

Calla: It clicked, work that program for sure.

Bridget Shannon: Yes, yeah, so it's tough to like, think about getting out of the diet mentality in terms of a program, right? It's not a linear process. And everybody wants the answer and the method.

Calla: Yes. Everybody wants the answer and the method, myself included a lot of the time

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, of course, I mean, this is something that comes up a lot with our clients, because they just want the checklist, right, tell me what to do. And then I'll get to the end of it, and everything will be great, right. But unfortunately, with food, it's just not a linear process. It's something that you have to kind of untangle the web and start to and it's, it's sort of like, a couple steps forward and one step back, and it's a process of healing, a lot of tears, a lot of tears.

Leanne: A lot of people are so stuck on focusing on the how, and not even addressing the why. So they're just doing points A, B, and C, and then trying to, you know, will it through for the next few weeks, and then they fall off. And it's just that Yo, yo, up and down. I do personal training. And a lot of my clients, I see this too, it's like very much a forceful behavior. Like, they're just I can't have that cookie, or, you know, they're just constantly, like, oppressing themselves. And that only lasts so long. You know, it's just like the kids who had super, super strict parents growing up, like they go to college, and they just go freakin' buck wild, because you know, they're free. And that's what I think the main issue is, people they're just forcing, forcing, forcing, and then then they're just running on fumes, and then they break and they break the diet. And then there's the guilt from breaking the diet, and then they feel motivated again to go, you know, balls to the wall, and then it's just over and over and over. But they're not addressing that. Why do I feel this need? Why do I feel like I can't have this cookie instead of like, I deserve to be healthy. So I don't want the cookie. Do you know what I mean? Or I do, and I deserve the cookie today, but it's not going to ruin everything and throw me off completely.

Bridget Shannon: No, absolutely. I mean, that cycle that you're kind of describing is what really prompts a lot of our clients to eventually get help, because they're just tired of it every single week, every single Monday starting over, right?

Leanne: Yes.

Bridget Shannon: Your "good," quote-unquote, for a few days.

Calla: You get tired of your own shit.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, like, by the weekend, you're going nuts and eating everything in sight, because you are not you know it, we really can only fight biology for so long. Eventually, willpower is a finite resource, it's going to run out, right? So we have to, instead, when we allow everything, and we make peace with food, then we can get to a point where we are making choices based on how we want to feel and what supports our health, and, you know, it's not this sort of battle where you're constantly restricting, restricting, restricting, and white-knuckling it to the point where eventually the floodgates come down, and you just start going nuts exactly like you're describing. I think you brought up a really good, important, important point, which is the intention, the why, right? Because we have so many clients who really start to struggle, things are great at first eat everything you want, right? Like start to, like, have a great time eating things that you have been restricting forever. And it's all fun and games until you start to feel like oh, like, not that great physically.

Calla: There's the reason why mom and dad didn't want us to eat this all the time.

Bridget Shannon: And, you know, we have the potential weight gain there, which for a lot of women is the underlying challenge the body image work, right? So we have to come back to the intention, why am I doing this? Why am I trying to heal my relationship with food? Oh, right. Because what I was doing before wasn't working. And I was stuck in this constant cycle. So we have to constantly come back to that because it is a process and it can get really difficult. But once you're kind of through it, and once you go through that process of making peace with food, it's so worth it. In the end, it just has to keep coming back to that intention throughout the process.

Leanne: Always. I found a lot of the problem is, it's an awareness problem like the awareness stops at the taste buds like I want this because it's gonna taste amazing. But people don't think when they're making that decision, like, okay, like, yeah, it's 10 o'clock, and I want pizza. But then in two hours, like, maybe I'll have acid reflux, and then I'm going to sleep like crap. And then I'm going to feel guilty and feel like crap The next day because I didn't sleep well. And so like, they don't think of the big picture. And, you know, then when you feel like the shame of like, oh, I'm working against my goals, and there's just that emotional, you know, level as well. Right? And that's the actual decision they're making when they're choosing this. But in the moment, they don't think of all of those things that take over. Yeah, it's just like, they're, you know, you're shoveling food into your face, and you're not even enjoying it, you're thinking of the next bite or the next thing. You're not even present in that right? Or you're disassociating from the eating experience, because then if you let yourself really kind of come to terms with what you're doing, then we feel that shame and guilt.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, awareness is so key. And that's, that's what we work on. right at the start is building what we call interoceptive awareness. Because if unless we can get in touch with how something makes us feel and how satisfying it is, or you know, how it physically feels, then we can't ever get to that place of getting in touch with our intuitive cues, and our hunger and fullness cues. So the awareness is, is huge. And sometimes at first, that feels uncomfortable. And sometimes you're going to be eating a little bit more than you usually do. Because for so long, you've restricted but if you can go through that process, you will get to a point where you can get in touch with those cues, it just is all about building awareness at first and, you know, tuning into what feels good, and what tastes good, too. Because what we would love to see is, you know, you're enjoying what you're eating and having a wonderful eating experience and tuning in to how it makes you feel versus like you were describing, restricting that experience. And then you know, waiting until, again, the willpower runs out and just going nuts and not even enjoying it. And then, you know, feeling that shame and that guilt and which is just going to cause that cycle to start over again and to start restricting again because that shame is so powerful.

Leanne: How do you help people find their Why?

Bridget Shannon: Well, the very first thing that we do is a journaling exercise. We are big fans of the journal around here, and you know, it's sometimes it's can be uncomfortable for people who don't normally do that. But we really just say, you know, there's no right way to do this. Just get in touch with how you're feeling and that intuitive guidance and just write whatever comes to mind and What we do is an exercise called the diet history exercise. So we look at what have you done in the past? Where has dieting got you?

Calla: Right here.

Bridget Shannon: Right? Like, how has that been working?

Leanne: Yeah, here now seeking help.

Bridget Shannon: Exactly. Because the reality is a lot of us look back on dieting with rose-colored colored glasses, right, we totally think that there was an awesome benefit or a got us somewhere. But if you're struggling with food, most of us, it never really worked in the long run, right? So we get clear and get honest about how that has been helpful or how it has not been helpful. And what you want, you know, there is a sort of choice here, you could keep dieting, and you could stay in this restrictive place with food, but what do you want to do? You know, do you want to spend the rest of your life-fighting food or missing out on social events because you are nervous about the food or, you know, avoiding dating or starting a new career or whatever else in your life until you get to a body that you think is acceptable. So we just have our clients get really honest about their why and you know, start to really put the pieces together. And, you don't have to just drop this desire for weight loss altogether, that would be unrealistic for a lot of people. But we say, you know, put it on the back burner for now. Because when we keep the focus on weight loss at the forefront, we're always going to be in this really restrictive place.

Calla: Never enough.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah. So we just say, you know, what we get it makes sense, given the culture that we live in, but let's just kind of put it back here, for now, let it sit in the backseat, but it's not driving anymore. It's not telling us where to go. And, from that place, we can start to work with, okay, here's how we move forward, given your intention and why you're here.

Calla: And it's so important because literally, all of the major experiences are so centered around food or food as a part of it. So you have to get a hold of this so that you can experience life. It truly affects everything, I think.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, we have to eat right? It's something that we can't avoid. So it might as well be enjoyable and not taking up so much mind space. You know, for a lot of women, this is taking up an enormous amount of brainpower and their energy and time. And that's sort of the bigger, low-key mission from our company is like, Okay, if think about if women were not spending so much time and energy and mind space on this challenge, what would our world look like? Collectively, how could we shift things?

Calla: that gets me excited!

Leanne: Well, I'll tell you like from my own experience, so I struggled with eating for over half my life. It started around twelve or thirteen when I had a coach that told me, I did swimming, and he said if I lost five pounds, I could be faster. And that was the first time I realized like, oh, I can control my weight. So my mom helped me and we did it healthy. I lost five pounds, and I told him and he just says okay, lose five more. And after that was just like something in my mind that was just like you got to keep trying to get, you know, keep going down, keep trying to get lower, like you're never at a good enough weight. That was like kind of what I that's not what he said. But that's how I internalized it. And so I unexpectedly like it did it took up hours of my mind space like it was all I thought about like in an anxiety kind of way like Oh God, like what am I going to do for lunch? I need to make sure I can go to this place or you know, a lot of things were off-limits for me. But I found my why unexpectedly when Calla and I read a book called Indistractible, and it was it's like the sneakiest self-help book you ever read because it taught me about rumination and how when you think a negative thought you can either stop it in its tracks and think something different or you can ruminate on it and go down this kind of spiral. And I realized every time that I was bingeing, I was ruminating, I was you know, had the shameful guilty thoughts. It took me realizing that to kind of break that that cycle. But when I broke the cycle, then I had a ton of mental space. And it was super uncomfortable for me because I had to face what I wasn't dealing with. I had to face like some, you know, unfulfillness in my life that I had all this free time and free space to think about and, and it almost made me want to revert back like I had a long time of going back to it because it was comfortable for me.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah.

Leanne: How do you help women deal with that?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, well, you are spot on that. This sort of mechanism of control that dieting provides, for many people is really powerful, right? And it's, it can be a really useful coping mechanism for a lot of things. And when we give that up, when we don't have that anymore, there's often this void of like, oh, what do I do now? And how do I spend my time? And how what's my sort of method for control or method for coping with emotions to so and it's also really scary to think that, you know, maybe there's that we are unfulfilled in some way. And that's like, big, deep, uncomfortable stuff to think.

Leanne: uncomfortable. Yeah,

Bridget Shannon: yeah. So we work through the emotional piece of it, and not only coping mechanisms for handling uncomfortable emotions but also okay, what do I want to do with this mind space? Like what excites me? And what is what are my values, right? Because if I no longer have dieting as a distraction in my life, or as an achievement-oriented type thing, then what do I want to do? What excites me? What lights me up? How do I want to spend my time? And also, how am I going to deal with some uncomfortable emotions as they come up? And what's my coping mechanism for when stress comes up? If you know I'm no longer bingeing because I have healed this relationship with food we find emotional eating is not a thing for people who don't struggle with dieting, because it's not a coping mechanism, because dieters who are restricting all of a sudden, when you have an emotional situation, or negative emotion of some sort, that's almost like an opportunity to right binge or to eat.

Calla: Self-sabotage for sure.

Leanne: You can always find a reason.

Bridget Shannon: So when we don't have that need to fill, you know, the void or to face uncomfortable emotions of food, what do we do?

Calla: Right? That's a lot of time freed up for a lot of us.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah. So that's the whole third portion of our program is all about, okay, how do I want to spend this time? Like, what do I want to focus on and what actually fulfills me so that I'm not turning back to dieting in order to fill that void, or I'm not trying to just put all my energy into changing my appearance, or like you were describing, you know, being better by losing weight, right? What do I want to do with that time, and that can be something very new for a lot of people, right, it's something that we don't explore much. So it can be exciting, but also kind of uncomfortable, because those are some of the big things to think about.

Leanne: But they need to be dealt with at some point. So you can either keep, you know, burying it literally with food and, and prioritizing that. So your mind can't go there. Or you can face it and move forward. And, and honestly, like I that being a trainer, especially like I felt almost like a fraud, you know because I'm telling these people to do all these things to better their health. Meanwhile, I have this, dirty little secret. Yes. Um, and so there was that layer two, but then, like, I felt when I overcame that, like, I feel so much more productive and so much more fulfilled, and I'm healthier on top of it, but that's just a byproduct, you know, and it's so funny, because I spent all this time obsessing trying to get to this, this body in this weight that I wanted, and I never got there, you know, but now that that's not my priority, or my focus, like, I'm healthier than I've ever been. And that's just, you know because I've changed my mindset and, and changed my time and change what I'm thinking about. And it's so funny, because it's, it's not what I was focusing on, you know, it's crazy.

Bridget Shannon: And it's so counterintuitive because it's, we just get sold this idea throughout our whole lives, that we need to control food to be healthy, and that we need to be healthy to be happy and successful. And we need to look a certain way to be both of those things, too. So to sort of challenge that notion and start to just say, I'm not going to do it anymore, I'm not going to listen to these food rules anymore can feel kind of sticky. But once you kind of work through it, you absolutely can feel that sense of freedom that comes from being in touch with your body's cues. And the mind space is huge, right? We've had women who go on to different careers because they realized they were unfulfilled or you know, who get involved with politics because they that's something they always wanted to do, but they never really had the space for it or, you know, just so many things that we don't even really get a chance to think about or we don't even put any energy to because we're so caught up in this struggle, even little things from you know, planning meals for the week that have to adhere to a plan of some sort, right like even just that Every day is, you know, an exhausting hour of time, right? So there are so many ways that it frees up our, our resources. And it's really powerful to be able to think about what else could I do with that time? Or energy?

Calla: For sure. Yeah, it's a fine line two, though, to try to find things that are healthy options and not fall down the rabbit hole of Paleo or Keto and think that this is the only way that you can obtain health. That's something I struggle with. My food situation is very different. I learned to hide food very early. Like that wasn't necessarily good. But you could eat it in private, but nobody could know. It messed me up in that sense of, when can I eat? When can't I? Can people know? What am I supposed to have? So when you go looking for options, and someone in my situation, it's hard to not say, Okay, well, this is the new trendy thing. How do you help people like me?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, well, it's a really good question. Because there is a benefit to understanding nutrition, right? And there is a benefit to understanding like how things impact our health. And that nutrition we refer to as the nutrition informant who is you know, saying, well, this is good for you. And this is bad for you, quote, unquote, that can potentially be an ally for us down the line, right?

Calla: Yeah, actually be love that y'all talked about that in one of your episodes. It was so funny about how it's the hungover intern writing the blog post or something like that. I was cracking up. I was like, that's exactly it.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah. No, it's good. That was me sitting in the office like, Okay, what am I going to like write about for this blog post? I need to get up today, the topic, and got some nutrition? Yeah. That can be helpful from a reputable credible source, right? I wouldn't recommend you know, your hangover intern. But that can be useful when we are in a place where we're open to that information. And it's not confusing or overwhelming or conflicting with that, that desire to make peace with food, right? So it can be helpful to understand nutrition, and we do touch on that in our program. But it comes last, because if it were to come any earlier, yeah, it would, it would really contradict this idea of allowing all foods at first so that our body can trust that we know what's best and Okay, everything is allowed. Nothing is restricted. So what do I actually want? And what do I feel like and what's going to support how I want to feel. So once we make peace with food, then we can say, Oh, I can learn about nutrition. If that's interesting to me, I can learn what feels best for my body, which is a really important piece to write because one thing might feel great for someone and then awful for someone else, right? And that's, that's kind of the tricky part about some of the food trends is something like gluten-free might be great for someone with an allergy or sensitivity for gluten. But for someone else, maybe they feel great eating gluten, and it's not a problem, but they're restricting it because they think they should or because they want to lose weight. Right. So And meanwhile, they're restricting all week, and then eating all the bread over the weekend, right? So we can use that nutrition information, it can be helpful, but first, we want to go through the phase of making peace with food and really challenging cause rules. And like you were describing looking at our food behaviors, right? So when I am noticing myself eating in secret, or if I am hiding food, right, like where's that coming from?

Calla: Yep. Leanne, you talk about that kind of like broke the chain for you that that's what it was, for me that rootwork of like, Where did I learn this? But why? Why is it still Why am I even acting this way? Because this isn't what I want to be doing. So why am I doing it? It's just that habitual eating.

Bridget Shannon: Yes. A lot of it is habitual. And a lot of it stems from childhood, right? If you were in a home where either there was real true food scarcity due to poverty, or there was food scarcity due to, you know, rules around what you can or cannot eat, or what's acceptable, we have to look at, what are the rules that I'm still following? And how is it impacting me? And, you know, can I start to challenge that a little bit and start to say, "Nope. All food is allowed anytime, whether I'm alone or in public", right, and start to really notice the individual rules that we give ourselves?

Calla: Yeah, it was very unclear for me growing up. So as an adult, when I was trying to say I want to feel good, I want to do all these things. Where do I go? You know, it was very, I think that's why I liked the way that your programs laid out because it does, it goes Those sequences and then you're able to find the nutrition and things that work for you. I think that's a good job.

Bridget Shannon: Thanks. Well, you're definitely not alone in that either. We see it all the time and totally rules that show up from our childhood and you just look at our culture, right? And look at the food rules. A lot of us, you know, our parents didn't know any different than the diet culture they were raised in. So it just sort of carries down and one of our goals is to break that generational transaction when it comes to food.

Leanne: A problematic message is, you can either be healthy, or you can enjoy your life, you can't have both, you know, um, but who's to say that, like, enjoying just means eating whatever you want, whenever you want to like that you can enjoy your life if you feel good, and you're not carrying 50 extra pounds, you know, when your blood pressure isn't high like that, then you can really enjoy your life and you're not controlled by, you know, restricting your food and all that to people just kind of dwindled that down into, okay, well, if I choose to be healthy, then I can't have any of this stuff that I love.

Calla: That's Marketing, man.

Bridget Shannon: Well, we have to look at the mental health piece of it too, right? Like how, how much is the battle of food impacting our mental health and our emotional health? And sure, maybe dieting for doing a short-term diet, you might feel great, right after like, there's no glossing over that, right? But we have to look at the long term, how is it impacting us? And how is it impacting our mental health to constantly be thinking about food and restricting, and we also have this, this idea that, you know, enjoying our life has to happen in a certain body size, right? And we have this cultural narrative that the smaller we are, the better our life is going to be.

Calla: And the healthier too, I think that's a big misunderstanding too. Small doesn't necessarily mean healthy.

Bridget Shannon: Correct. And that is, you know, oftentimes is a message that's coming from a place of privilege, right? Like when we look at, you know, the actual things that impact our health or things like where you live and your environment and your access to health care and your income. And those things are all kind of glossed over when we talk about health and especially in the wellness industry. And instead, we're talking about, you know, kale and lycra and crystals. And it's like, well, guess what actually matters when it comes to our health, You know?

Calla: How do you feel about you? so how do you feel about you? That's what it comes back down to right?

Leanne: Can you explain to our listeners what Intuitive Eating is and kind of your philosophy on how you get from point A to like, chronic yo-yo dieting to be able to do it?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. So intuitive eating the sort of capitalized version is a framework that I like I mentioned, the two dieticians, Evelyn Tripoli, and Elyse Resch coined this term and framework. And they have a wonderful book called Intuitive Eating, if you want to kind of dig into the framework itself. It's an awesome book that changed my life. And it's, again, the practice that our practice really revolves around this framework, but they refer to it as a framework of self-care through eating, which I love because it is a form of taking care of yourself through food. And so the process itself, there are 10 principles, and they're kind of guideposts. They're not hard and fast rules, but they're sort of guideposts along this journey with food. And the very first step is to reject this diet mentality. So to look at all of the ways that you are measuring your food or measuring your body or all of the dieter's tools that you're using things like the scale or a Fitbit, or you know, an app to count calories...

Calla: Or all of the above.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, yes, all of the ways. I mean, most of our culture is in doing some form of this, right? So it's, it's not meant to be sort of a punitive thing. It's just looking at how it's impacting you, right? How is the diet mentality affecting you and committing to a different way of doing things if you want to make peace with food and heal the relationship with food and your body, then you know, there's a different way, there's a better way if the struggle is taking up a lot of mind space for you so, so these 10 principles kind of work in tandem, and what we do is build this interoceptive awareness that I mentioned earlier, which helps to get in touch with your intuitive cues. So your own body's cues. This means that no one else on the internet or anywhere can tell you how to eat in a way that works best for your body. It's about tuning into that intuitive guidance that we all have, it's just been so stuffed down by diet culture and, and, you know, experts telling us how to eat. And that is often these big weight loss companies, right. So. So it's all about sort of tuning into that awareness and removing any barriers to that awareness as well. And you know, there's a bunch of, there's a bunch of things that go into this, it's, it's a windy journey, but at the end of the day, get to a place where food is just not that big of a deal anymore. It's not something that is causing a lot of pain, and you can just eat in a way that feels good. And, you know, doesn't cause any stress or cause you to be in this constant restrict binge cycle. And this is your life,

Calla: Where it enhances your life, right?

Bridget Shannon: very much. So yeah, and it's just like food is just a part of your life. And it's just something that is, supports you, and is, you know, something that feels good. It's not the sort of center of your struggle with yourself or your body.

Leanne: Do you see a place at all for those kinds of tracking tools like the Fitbit, or the calorie counting apps, or anything like that?

Bridget Shannon: Is there a place for it totally depends on the individual. Usually, I mean, I think if you are doing something like training for something or you know, physically, like running a marathon, for example, or something like that, right, where it might be helpful to, to help you with a goal like that. What we look at is, how much is impacting you and how you're using it. So if you are, you know, every single day, loading your calories into an app, and it's driving you crazy, if you're not meeting your calorie goals or something, right, like looking at, is this actually helpful? Or is it hurting you? Is it at all helpful? Right? Like, how is it serving you? And if it's not, why are you still doing it? And why? How is it? How's it actually impacting your relationship with food, because oftentimes, it just ends up being something that can impede our ability to tune in to that intuitive wisdom. So, you know, if you are eating something that you're enjoying, and feels good, but you know, you go over the calorie limit, that's gonna affect you. Whereas without that sort of tracking might be better off.

Leanne: That's kind of my struggle with my job is figuring out, is this tracking these things going to bring awareness to this person? Or is it going to derail them? Because they feel like they have to hit these goals? Right?

Bridget Shannon: I think that's just personal no one can answer that except for the individual, right? Because maybe it is helpful, maybe it's helpful to bring some awareness to how much someone is moving every day, right. And if they do have a goal to move more, which we know is good for our health, then, you know, that might be helpful. But what we see in our practice is this sort of like, almost this rigid need to close the rings, or whatever the thing is, whereas that might impede your ability to listen to your body. If your body saying I need to rest today, I don't feel like doing that intense workout. But you know, someone might do it anyway, because they have to close the rings.

Calla: That's us.

Bridget Shannon: Yes, that is a big topic of discussion in my house as well.

Leanne: I think a lot of houses. Is there a typical timeline for a person you see that comes to you from the get-go? And finally can make it to intuitive eating? Or is it different depending on the person?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, it's a really good question. We have found our program is four months long. And we found that that four months is typically a good spot for people to really make those shifts that are going to help them for the rest of their lives. So you might leave our, our little nest after four months and still feel like there's some things you want to work on. But you have the tools to do that. Now you have the ability to tune into these, you know, these intuitive cues. And there might be things that cause you to stumble in the future. And you might have a negative body image moment, but you know how to handle it. So we've found that that timeline works well for a lot of people, but there's just no telling how long it's going to take to truly get in tune with your body and to be able to listen to your body. It depends, honestly, on how long this battle has been going on before. You know we have people who are on the younger side who maybe have been struggling with dieting and the rigid rules for a few years, and it's going to be a lot easier for them to break out of that mentality. Someone who's been struggling with food for decades is going to have a little bit tougher time, but that also might not be the case. You know, it's totally individual. That's why we work with people individually within our program. But we have found, in general, that a four-month timeline is pretty good for at least getting to a place where you feel fortified to move forward with this mentality.

Calla: yeah, a good jumpstart.

Leanne: And that's huge, especially if you spent years and years and years and years going through this for months. It's just a blink.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, it's pretty quick. I mean, it's certainly not an overnight fix.

Leanne: Which is what everyone wants.

Bridget Shannon: Right. It's not a 30 day and your fixed.

Bridget Shannon: It goes back to that checklist. It's not great for our marketing, right. I'd love to be able to say we can solve your problems in 30 days, but we, unfortunately, can't.

Calla: We respect the hell out of that. We do.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, but it is relatively quick in the big picture if you've been struggling for a while because it's amazing how fast the bingeing can stop and the emotional eating can stop once you truly make peace with food, which for some people can happen pretty quickly. So and that's the first thing that we address is just ending that painful behavior around food.

Calla: What have been some great breakthroughs that you've been able to witness in your position as co-founder of wellness lately? There have to be some amazing moments.

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, I mean, it is amazing to just see, women have this shift, because I get excited thinking about what's possible, not only for women, who free up this mind space but also the next generation, right? We got people who have, who are moms who are raising young girls who are going to avoid the struggle because their moms did the work to heal their relationship with food. Right. And so that, that makes me a little emotional.

Calla: I know, I got goosebumps.

Leanne: Me too

Calla: That's how big of a trigger it is for women, though. I mean, that goes to show it, we all have an emotional pull to it. And for very different reasons. You know, I think that that's why it's so important to have these conversations, for lack of better terms. So tell me some more things that, you've seen or that people have had success with?

Bridget Shannon: Sure. Yeah, well, just sort of to tack on to that. One person, I'm thinking of who graduated just this past week. She's on the younger end, she's one of our younger clients, and she lives in an area of the country that is very focused on appearance and very caught up in diet culture.

Leanne: Dallas.

Bridget Shannon: A lot of people might guess which goes which, yeah. But she has just made amazing progress in working through the body image piece in particular, and she's starting this new job as a teacher and just thinking about the same thing, right? How many kids might be affected? Yeah, by a different mindset right and the other person that comes to mind right away is our marketing director Kimberly, with who I know you've been in conversation with and she went through our program. She was someone who was an expert dieter. She was good at it because a lot of people are just good at the idea of dieting, of thinking about dieting. But she was rigid and pro dieting. But it was negatively impacting her life. And when she came to us, we worked through the foodstuff, which was it was awesome to see that shift in her but it was also, I think, more importantly, the shift she had around the mind space and energy freedom, she left a career to be a stay at home mom, which she loved, but she was realizing in the process that she was spending all of her energy into and sort of goal-oriented thinking and changing her body and, you know, the exercise and the making all her meals from scratch. And all of that, you know, was she was doubling down on on the perfectionism that can come with being a pro diet or, and she realized that she what she was missing was the sort of working with people and the achievement mentality and working toward a goal and she realized in the process that she wanted to go back to work and do something, you know, with all that energy as opposed to just fixing her body. And so she came to us and started working with us.

Leanne: She's working for you now?

Bridget Shannon: Yeah, which is amazing because not only for us as someone